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NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®)

Occult Primary
(Cancer of Unknown Primary
[CUP])
Version 1.2018 — November 9, 2017
NCCN.org

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NCCN Guidelines Version 1.2018 Panel Members NCCN Guidelines Index


Table Of Contents
Occult Primary Discussion

*David S. Ettinger, MD/Chair † G. Weldon Gilcrease, MD Kerry Reynolds, MD ‡


The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Huntsman Cancer Institute Dana-Farber Cancer/Brigham and Women's
Center at Johns Hopkins at the University of Utah Cancer Center I Massachusetts General
Hospital Cancer Center
*Gauri R. Varadhachary, MD/Vice-Chair † Kelly Godby, MD †
The University of Texas University of Alabama at Birmingham Leonard Saltz, MD † Þ ‡
MD Anderson Cancer Center Comprehensive Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Daniel W. Bowles, MD † Angela Jain, MD † Richard B. Schwab, MD †


University of Colorado Cancer Center Fox Chase Cancer Center UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center

Sunandana Chandra, MD, MS † Christina Kong, MD ≠ Marc Shapiro, MD †


Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Stanford Cancer Institute Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/
of Northwestern University University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center
Jeremy Kortmansky, MD † Þ and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute
Mihaela Cristea, MD † Yale Cancer Center/
City of Hope Comprehensive Smilow Cancer Hospital Chanjuan Shi, MD, PhD ≠
Cancer Center Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Renato Lenzi, MD ‡
Jeremiah Deneve, DO ¶ The University of Texas Jeffrey B. Smerage, MD, PhD ‡ †
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/ MD Anderson Cancer Center University of Michigan
University of Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Center
Health Science Center Sam Lubner, MD †
University of Wisconsin Marvaretta M. Stevenson, MD †
Mihaela Druta, MD Þ Carbone Cancer Center Duke Cancer Institute
Moffitt Cancer Center
Martin C. Mahoney, MD, PhD Harry H. Yoon, MD †
Keith D. Eaton, MD, PhD † Þ Roswell Park Cancer Institute Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research
Center/Seattle Cancer Center Alliance John Phay, MD ¶ Matthew B. Yurgelun, MD †
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Dana-Farber Cancer/Brigham and Women's
David Gierada, MD ф Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Cancer Center I Massachusetts General
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes- Solove Research Institute Hospital Cancer Center
Jewish Hospital and Washington University
School of Medicine Asif Rashid, MD ≠ Weining (Ken) Zhen, MD §
The University of Texas Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center
MD Anderson Cancer Center

NCCN † Medical oncology


Mary Anne Bergman ¶ Surgery/Surgical oncology
Lenora A. Pluchino, PhD § Radiation oncology/Radiotherapy
‡ Hematology/Hematology oncology
NCCN Guidelines Panel Disclosures
Continue Þ Internal medicine
≠ Pathology
ф Diagnostic/Interventional radiology
* Discussion Section Writing Committee

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NCCN Guidelines Version 1.2018 Table of Contents NCCN Guidelines Index


Table Of Contents
Occult Primary (Cancer of Unknown Primary) Discussion

NCCN Occult Primary Panel Members


Summary of the Guidelines Updates Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that
the best management for any patient
with cancer is in a clinical trial.
Initial Evaluation (OCC-1) Participation in clinical trials is
Epithelial Occult Primaries (OCC-2) especially encouraged.
To find clinical trials online at NCCN
Adenocarcinoma or Carcinoma Not Otherwise Specified (OCC-3) Member Institutions, click here:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OCC-11) nccn.org/clinical_trials/physician.html.

Follow-up for All Occult Primaries (OCC-16) NCCN Categories of Evidence and
Consensus: All recommendations
Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown Primary Cancers (OCC-A) are category 2A unless otherwise
indicated.
Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for
See NCCN Categories of Evidence
Occult Primaries (OCC-B) and Consensus.
Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C)

The NCCN Guidelines® are a statement of evidence and consensus of the authors regarding their views of currently accepted approaches to treatment.
Any clinician seeking to apply or consult the NCCN Guidelines is expected to use independent medical judgment in the context of individual clinical
circumstances to determine any patient’s care or treatment. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) makes no representations or
warranties of any kind regarding their content, use or application and disclaims any responsibility for their application or use in any way. The NCCN
Guidelines are copyrighted by National Comprehensive Cancer Network®. All rights reserved. The NCCN Guidelines and the illustrations herein may not
be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of NCCN. ©2017.
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NCCN Guidelines Version 1.2018 Updates NCCN Guidelines Index


Table Of Contents
Occult Primary Discussion

Updates in Version 1.2018 of the Guidelines for Occult Primary from Version 2.2017 include:
MS-1 OCC-9
• The discussion section has been updated to reflect the changes in • 3rd column, pathway off Pleural effusion has been removed:
the algorithm "Consider local management"
• 3rd column, pathway off Peritoneal/Ascites has been modified:
OCC-1 "Histology consistent with ovary, negative for liver"
Initial evaluation:
• Last bullet has been modified: "SymptomClinically directed OCC-11
endoscopy, as indicated" Additional Workup:
Workup: • Supraclavicular nodes, statement has been removed: "Chest/
• 1st bullet has been modified: "Core needle biopsy (preferred) and/ upper abdominal CT"
or FNA with cell block"
OCC-A
OCC-2 • The Immunohistochemistry Markers section of the guidelines
• "Localized" has been added to "adenocarcinoma or carcinoma not has been extensively modified.
otherwise specified" (Also for OCC-3, OCC-4, OCC-5, OCC-6)
Clinical presentation: OCC-C
• 1st bullet has been modified: "Predominant and isolated cervical Principles of Radiation Therapy
nodes" (Also for OCC-3) • Palliative Therapy, 1st sub-bullet has been modified: Regimen: A
number of hypofractionation regimens could be considered, but
OCC-3 typically 8 Gy in 1 fraction, 20 Gy in 4–5 fractions, or 30 Gy in 10
Additional Workup: fractions are most frequently used.
• Supraclavicular nodes, Men and women: "Endoscopy, if clinically
indicated" is new to the page.

OCC-4
Additional Workup:
• Peritoneal/Ascites: "Serum CA 19-9 level if pancreatic or biliary
tract primary suspected" has been removed. (Also for OCC-5)

OCC-5
Additional workup:
• Retroperitoneal mass, Men, modified: "<65 y Beta-hCG, alpha-
fetoprotein, testicular ultrasound if markers elevated"

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Occult Primary Discussion

INITIAL EVALUATION WORKUP PATHOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS


See Clinical
Epithelial; not
Presentation
site specific
(OCC-2)
• Complete H&P, including
breast, genitourinary,
pelvic, and rectal exam,
Biopsy: Lymphoma and See NCCN
with attention to and
• Core needle biopsy other hematologic Guidelines Table
review of:
(preferred) and/or FNA malignancies of Contents
Past biopsies or
with cell block
malignancies
of most accessible site
Removed lesions Thyroid See NCCN Guidelines
• Consult pathologist for
Spontaneously
adequacy of specimen carcinoma for Thyroid Carcinoma
regressing lesions
Suspected and additional studies
Existing imaging studies
metastatic including See NCCN Guidelines
• CBC Melanoma
malignancya immunohistochemical for Melanoma
• Electrolytes
stainsd
• Liver function tests See NCCN Guidelines
• Tumor sequencing and Sarcoma
• Creatinine for Soft Tissue Sarcoma
gene signature profiling
• Calcium
for tissue of origin is not
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb
recommended for
scan Germ-cell See NCCN Guidelines
standard management at
• Hemoccult tumor for Testicular Cancer
this timee
• Clinically directed
endoscopy, as indicated Further evaluation
Nonmalignant
and
diagnosis
Appropriate follow-up

aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support
and counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
bCT/MRI imaging should be performed with IV contrast unless contraindicated.
dSee Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown Primary Cancers (OCC-A).
eThere may be diagnostic benefit, though not necessarily clinical benefit. The use of gene signature profiling is a category 3 recommendation.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

PATHOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS CLINICAL


PRESENTATION
• Predominant and isolated
cervical nodes See Clinical
• Supraclavicular nodes Presentation (OCC-3)
• Axillary nodes

• Mediastinum
• Chest (multiple nodules) See Clinical
Localized or pleural effusions Presentation (OCC-4)
adenocarcinoma • Peritoneal
or
carcinoma not
• Retroperitoneal mass
otherwise specified See Clinical
• Inguinal nodes
Presentation (OCC-5)
• Liver
Epithelial;
not site
• Bone
specific See Clinical
• Brain
Presentation (OCC-6)
• Multiple, including skin

See Clinical
Squamous cell carcinoma
Presentation (OCC-11)

See NCCN Guidelines


Neuroendocrine tumor for Neuroendocrine
Tumors

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL ADDITIONAL WORKUPf


PRESENTATION

Predominant and See NCCN Guidelines for Head


isolated cervical nodes and Neck Cancers/Occult Primary

Men and women:


• Neck/chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
• Endoscopy, if clinically indicated
Women:
Localized • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and
adenocarcinoma Supraclavicular histopathologic evidence for breast cancer,
or nodes breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound
carcinoma not indicated
otherwise specified • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
Men:
• >40 y: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
See Management
Men and women: Based on Workup
• Neck/chest/abdominal CTb (if not done) Findings (OCC-7)
Women:
• Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and
Axillary nodes histopathologic evidence for breast cancer,
breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound
indicated
• Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
Men:
• >40 y: PSA

bCT/MRI imaging should be performed with IV contrast unless contraindicated.


fSymptom-directed endoscopy can be considered for individual patients based on clinical findings and immunohistochemical markers.
gAn expanded panel of immunohistochemical markers may be used as appropriate. See Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown Primary Cancers (OCC-A).

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL ADDITIONAL WORKUPf


PRESENTATION
Men and women:
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
• Beta-hCG, alpha-fetoprotein
Women:
• Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic evidence for
Mediastinum breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound indicated
• Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
Men:
• >40 y: PSA
• Testicular ultrasound, if beta-hCG and alpha-fetoprotein markers
elevated
Men and women:
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
Localized
Women:
adenocarcinoma Chest • CA-125
or (multiple nodules) • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg See Management
carcinoma not or • Consider gynecologic oncologist consult if clinically indicated Based on Workup
otherwise Pleural effusion • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic evidence for Findings (OCC-7)
specified breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound indicated
Men:
• >40 y: PSA

Men and women:


• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
• Urine cytology; cystoscopy if suspicious
Peritoneal/ Women:
Ascites • CA-125
bCT/MRI • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
imaging should be performed with IV
contrast unless contraindicated. • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic evidence for
fSymptom-directed endoscopy can be considered for breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound indicated
individual patients based on clinical findings and • Gynecologic oncologist consult
immunohistochemical markers. Men:
gAn expanded panel of immunohistochemical • >40 y: PSA
markers may be used as appropriate. See
Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown
Primary Cancers (OCC-A).

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL ADDITIONAL WORKUPf


PRESENTATION
Men and women:
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
• Urine cytology; consider cystoscopy if suspicious
Women:
• CA-125
Retroperitoneal • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
mass • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic evidence
for breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound indicated
• Gynecologic oncologist consult if clinically indicated
Men:
• >40 y: PSA
• <65 y: Beta-hCG, alpha-fetoprotein, testicular ultrasound

Men and women:


Localized • Abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
adenocarcinoma • Proctoscopy if clinically indicated See Management
or Inguinal Women: Based on Workup
carcinoma not nodes • CA-125 Findings (OCC-7)
otherwise specified • Gynecologic oncologist consult
Men:
• >40 y: PSA
Men and women:
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
• Endoscopic evaluation
Liver • Alpha-fetoprotein
Women:
bCT/MRI imaging should be performed with IV contrast • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
unless contraindicated.
fSymptom-directed endoscopy can be considered for • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic evidence
individual patients based on clinical findings and for breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast ultrasound
immunohistochemical markers. indicated
gAn expanded panel of immunohistochemical markers may
be used as appropriate. See Immunohistochemistry
Markers for Unknown Primary Cancers (OCC-A).
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL ADDITIONAL WORKUPf


PRESENTATION Men and women:
• Bone scan (if PET/CT scan not previously done)
• Diagnostic imagingh studies as indicated for painful lesions
and/or bone-scan–positive lesions and/or weight-bearing
areas
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
Bone
Women:
• Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
• Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic
evidence for breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast
ultrasound indicated
Men:
• PSA
Men and women:
• See NCCN Guidelines for Central Nervous System Cancers
Localized for Primary Treatment of CNS Metastatic Lesions See Management
adenocarcinoma • Chest/abdominal CTb (if not done) Based on Workup
or Brain Women: Findings (OCC-7)
carcinoma not • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
otherwise specified • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic
evidence for breast cancer, breast MRI and/or breast
ultrasound indicated
Men and women:
• Chest/abdominal/pelvic CTb (if not done)
Women:
Multiple sites • Appropriate immunohistochemistryg
of involvement • Mammogram; if non-diagnostic and histopathologic
bCT/MRI imaging should be performed with IV contrast unless evidence for breast cancer, breast MRIb and/or breast
contraindicated.
fSymptom-directed endoscopy can be considered for individual ultrasound indicated
patients based on clinical findings and immunohistochemical Men:
markers. • PSA
gAn expanded panel of immunohistochemical markers may be used as appropriate. See Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown Primary Cancers (OCC-A).
hX-ray is recommended for initial evaluation. If there is concern for spine metastases (eg, pain, neurologic symptoms), MRI or contrast-enhanced CT should be used for
initial evaluation. When x-ray films suggest metastases in weight-bearing areas, further imaging is recommended for therapeutic evaluation.
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

WORKUP FINDINGS MANAGEMENT BASED ON


WORKUP FINDINGS

Treat per NCCN disease-specific guidelines


Primary found
NCCN Guidelines Table of Contents

• Head and neck


• Supraclavicular See Management Based on
• Axillary Workup Findings (OCC-8)
• Mediastinum

Localized • Lung nodules


adenocarcinoma • Pleural effusion See Management Based on
or carcinoma not • Peritoneal Workup Findings (OCC-9)
otherwise specifieda • Retroperitoneal mass

• Inguinal node
• Liver See Management Based on
• Bone Workup Findings (OCC-10)
• Brain

• Symptom control
Disseminated • Clinical trial preferred
metastasesa • Consider chemotherapy on an individual basisi
• Specialized approachesj

aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
jFor specialized approaches that are therapeutic in nature, see Discussion.
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS

Treat per NCCN Guidelines for


Head and neck
Head and Neck Cancers

Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Head and


Supraclavicular (unilateral or bilateral)
Neck Cancers/Occult Primary

Localized Women:
adenocarcinoma • Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer
or Men:
Axillary
carcinoma • Axillary node dissection, consider RTk if
not otherwise clinically indicated, consider chemotherapyi
specifieda if clinically indicated

Treat as poor-risk germ cell tumor per NCCN


<40 y Guidelines for Testicular Cancer or germ cell
tumor per NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer
Consider additional
Treat as poor-risk germ cell tumor per NCCN
consultation with
Guidelines for Testicular Cancer or germ cell
pathologist to
Mediastinum 40 – <50 y tumor per NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer
determine if further
or treat per NCCN Guidelines for Non-Small Cell
analysis would be
Lung Cancer
helpful.
Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Non-Small Cell
≥50 y
Lung Cancer
aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support
and counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
kSee Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS
• If resectable, consider surgery
• Clinical trial preferred
Lung nodules • Consider chemotherapyi
• Symptom control
• Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT)k
Breast marker Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Breast
positive Cancer
Pleural effusion
• Clinical trial preferred
Other • Consider chemotherapyi
• Symptom control
Localized
Histology consistent with Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian
adenocarcinoma or
ovary Cancer
carcinoma not
Peritoneal/
otherwise specifieda • Clinical trial preferred
Ascites
Other • Consider chemotherapyi
• Symptom control

Treat as poor-risk germ cell tumor per


If histology consistent
NCCN Guidelines for Testicular
with germ cell tumor in
Cancer or germ cell tumor per NCCN
both men and women
Retroperitoneal Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer
mass
• Surgery and/or RTk
Non-germ cell histology • Consider chemotherapy for
selected patients (category 2B)i
aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
kSee Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS

Lymph node dissection, consider RTk


Unilateral
if clinically indicated ± chemotherapyi

Inguinal node
Bilateral lymph node dissection,
Bilateral consider RTk if clinically indicated ±
chemotherapyi (category 2B for RT alone)

Treat as disseminated diseasei and/or


consider locoregional therapeutic options
Unresectable (See NCCN Guidelines for Hepatobiliary
Cancers for locoregional therapy options)
Localized Liver
adenocarcinoma or If surgery is medically contraindicated, then
carcinoma not treat as unresectable (see above pathway)
otherwise specifieda
Resectable
Surgical resection ± chemotherapyi

Isolated lesion
Surgery for impending fracture
or painful lesion
(in patients with good performance status)
Bone or lesion with
and/or
potential for fracture
RTk
in weight-bearing area
See NCCN Guidelines for Central Nervous
Brain System Cancers for management of CNS
Metastatic Lesions
aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
kSee Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL
ADDITIONAL WORKUPf
PRESENTATION
Head and Head and neck workup
neck nodes See NCCN Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers

Supraclavicular Head and neck workup


nodes See NCCN Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers

Axillary
Chest CT
nodes

Squamous cell • Abdominal/pelvic CTb


carcinomaa • Careful perineal and lower extremity exam See Management
including: Based on Workup
Penis Findings (OCC-12)
Inguinal Scrotum
nodes Gynecologic areas
Anus
• Gynecologic oncologist consult
• Anal endoscopy
• Cystoscopy, if clinically indicated
• Bone scan (if only chest/abdomen/pelvic CTb
previously done)
Bone • Diagnostic imagingh studies for painful lesions
and/or bone scan–positive lesions and/or
weight-bearing areas
aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
bCT/MRI imaging should be performed with IV contrast unless contraindicated.
fSymptom-directed endoscopy can be considered for individual patients based on clinical findings and immunohistochemical markers.
hX-ray is recommended for initial evaluation. If there is concern for spine metastases (eg, pain, neurologic symptoms), MRI or contrast-enhanced CT should be used for
initial evaluation. When x-ray films suggest metastases in weight-bearing areas, further imaging is recommended for therapeutic evaluation.
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

WORKUP FINDINGS MANAGEMENT BASED ON


WORKUP FINDINGS

Treat per NCCN disease-specific guidelines


Primary found
NCCN Guidelines Table of Contents

• Head and neck


See Management of Site-
• Supraclavicular
Specific Disease (OCC-13)
• Axillary

Site-specific • Mediastinum
See Management of Site-Specific
squamous cell • Multiple lung nodules
Thoracic Disease (OCC-14)
carcinomaa • Pleural effusion

• Inguinal
See Management of Site-
• Bone
Specific Disease (OCC-15)
• Brain

• Symptom control
Disseminated
• Clinical trial preferred
metastasesa
• Consider chemotherapy on an individual basisi

aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS

Treat per NCCN Guidelines


Head and neck
for Head and Neck Cancers

Site-specific
Treat per NCCN Guidelines for Head
squamous Supraclavicular (unilateral or bilateral)
and Neck Cancers/Occult Primary
cell carcinomaa

Axillary node dissection, consider RTk


Axillary
if clinically indicated ± chemotherapyi

aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
kSee Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS

Treat per NCCN Guidelines for


Mediastinum
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Site-specific • Clinical trial preferred


Multiple lung
squamous • Chemotherapyi
nodules
cell carcinomaa • Symptom control

• Clinical trial preferred


Pleural effusion • Chemotherapyi
• Symptom control

aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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Occult Primary Discussion

CLINICAL MANAGEMENT BASED ON


PRESENTATION WORKUP FINDINGS

Lymph node dissection, consider RTk if


Unilateral
clinically indicated ± chemotherapyi

Inguinal

Bilateral lymph node dissection,


Bilateral consider RTk if clinically indicated ±
chemotherapyi (category 2B for RT alone)

Isolated lesion or
painful lesion or Surgery for impending fracture (in
bone scan–positive patients with good performance status)
lesion with potential and/or
Site-specific for fracture in RTk
squamous Bone weight-bearing area
cell carcinomaa

Multiple lesions See Disseminated Metastases (OCC-12)

See NCCN Guidelines for Central Nervous


Brain System Cancers for management of CNS
Metastatic Lesions
aFor many patients the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis of an unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial distress and increased
difficulty in accepting treatment options. Empathetic discussion about the natural history of these types of cancer and their prognosis, and the provision of support and
counseling both by the primary oncology team and specialized services may help to alleviate this distress. See NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management.
iSee Principles of Chemotherapy and Selected Chemotherapy Regimens for Occult Primaries (OCC-B).
kSee Principles of Radiation Therapy (OCC-C).
See Follow-up
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated. (OCC-16)
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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FOLLOW-UP FOR ALL OCCULT PRIMARIES


(NO ACTIVE TREATMENT)

• For patients with either active disease, or


localized disease in remission, follow-up
frequency should be determined by clinical need
H&P
Diagnostic tests based on symptomatology

• For patients with active and incurable disease,


psychosocial support, symptom management,
end-of-life discussions, palliative care
interventions, and hospice care should all be
considered and utilized as appropriate.
• See NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care,
NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management, and
NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship.

Back to Occult Primary


Table of Contents

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.

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POTENTIAL IMMUNOHISTOCHEMISTRY MARKERS FOR UNKNOWN PRIMARY CANCERS:


Immunohistochemistry markers for unknown primary cancers are provided as a resource to assist in localizing a primary but are not uniformly
specific or sensitive. Avoid a large series of immunohistochemistry markers. Communication with the pathologist is essential to workup.
TUMOR-SPECIFIC MARKERS AND THEIR STAINING PATTERN1
Marker Tumor Staining Pattern
Arginase-1 Hepatocellular Nuclear/cytoplasmic
Calretinin Mesothelioma, sex cord–stromal, adrenocortical Nuclear/cytoplasmic
CDX2 Colorectal, other gastrointestinal, pancreaticobilary tract Nuclear
D2-40 Mesothelioma, lymphatic endothelial cell marker Membranous
ER/PR Breast, ovary, endometrium Nuclear
GATA3 Breast, urinary bladder, salivary gland Nuclear
GCDFP-15 Breast Cytoplasmic
Glypican-3 Hepatocellular Membranous/canalicular/cytoplasmic
HepPar-1 Hepatocellular Cytoplasmic
Inhibin Sex cord–stromal, adrenocortical Cytoplasmic
Mammaglobin Breast Cytoplasmic
Melan-A Adrenocortical, melanoma Cytoplasmic
Napsin A Lung Cytoplasmic
NKX3-1 Prostate Nuclear
PAP Prostate Cytoplasmic
PAX8 Thyroid, renal, ovary, endometrium, cervix Nuclear
PSA Prostate Cytoplasmic
RCC marker Renal Membranous
SF-1 Adrenocorticol, sex–cord stromal Nuclear
SATB2 Colorectal, other gastrointestinal tract Nuclear
Thyroglobulin Thyroid Cytoplasmic
TTF-1 Lung, thyroid Nuclear
Uroplakin III Urothelial Membranous
Villin Gastrointestinal (epithelia with brush border) Apical
WT1 Ovarian serous, mesothelioma, Wilms Nuclear
1ER/PR, estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor; GCDFP-15, gross cystic disease fluid protein 15; HepPar-1, hepatocyte paraffin 1; RCC, renal cell carcinoma; PAP,
prostate acid phosphatase; PSA, prostate-specific antigen; SF-1, steroidogenic factor-1; TTF-1, thyroid transcription factor 1.
Bahrami A, Truong L, Ro J. Undifferentiated tumor: true identity by immunohistochemistry. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2008;132:326-348.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-A
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POTENTIAL IMMUNOHISTOCHEMISTRY MARKERS FOR UNKNOWN PRIMARY CANCERS


Undifferentiated Panel: For Determining Most Likely Cell Lineage2

Markers* Most Likely Cell Lineage


Pan-keratin (AE1/AE3 & CAM5.2) Carcinoma
CK5/6, p63/p40 Squamous cell carcinoma
S100, SOX10 Melanoma
LCA± CD20± CD3± Lymphoma
OCT3/4± SALL4± Germ cell tumor
WT1, calretinin, mesothelin, D2-40 Mesothelial tumor

*These markers are not uniformly specific or sensitive and can be


present on other tumors.

2Conner JR, Hornick JL. Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary: diagnostic approach using immunohistochemistry. Adv Anat Pathol 2015;22(3):149-167.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-A
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COMMONLY USED IMMUNOHISTOCHEMISTRY MARKERS FOR UNKNOWN PRIMARY CANCERS2

Tumor Site or Type Cytokeratin 7 (CK7) and Other Positive Markers Other Useful Markers
Cytokeratin 20 (CK20)
Adrenocortical carcinoma CK7-/CK20- SF-1
Melan A
Inhibin
Breast carcinoma CK7+/CK20- GATA3 ER/PR±
GCDFP-15 (BRST2)±
Mammagloblin±
Endocervical adenocarcinoma CK7+/CK20- p16+ (strong diffuse Vimentin-
staining) ER/PR±
PAX8± Human papillomavirus in situ hybridization
Endometrial adenocarcinoma CK7+/CK20- Vimentin ER/PR±
PAX8
p16- (strong diffuse staining to distinguish from
endocervical and uterine serous carcinoma)
Hepatocellular carcinoma CK7±/CK20± usually CK7-/ Arginase-1 MOC31- (to distinguish from intrahepatic
CK20- HepPar-1 cholangiocarcinoma)
Glypican-3 Albumin in situ hybridization - (also for
CD10 and polyclonal intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma)
CEA± (peri-canalicular
pattern)
Lower gastrointestinal CK7±/CK20+ CDX2
carcinoma, including small Villin
intestinal, appendiceal, and SATB2
colorectal

2Conner JR, Hornick JL. Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary: diagnostic approach using immunohistochemistry. Adv Anat Pathol 2015;22(3):149-167.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-A
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COMMONLY USED IMMUNOHISTOCHEMISTRY MARKERS FOR UNKNOWN PRIMARY CANCERS2


Tumor Site or Type Cytokeratin 7 (CK7) and Other Positive Markers Other Useful Markers
Cytokeratin 20 (CK20)
Lung adenocarcinoma CK7+/CK20- TTF1
NapsinA
Mesothelioma CK7±/CK20- Calretinin p63-
WT1 CEA-
CK5/6 MOC31-
D2-40 BerEP4-
Mesothelin TTF-1- (to distinguish from adenocarcinoma)
Neuroendocrine carcinoma, CK7±/CK20± ("dot-like" Chromogranin TTF1±
including small cell pattern in Merkel cell Synaptophysin CDX-2±
carcinoma carcinoma) CD56 Mitotic rate and/or Ki-67 (for grade)
Non-seminomatous germ cell CK7-/CK20- SALL4 CD30
tumor OCT3/4± Glypican-3
PLAP (for further subtyping)
Ovarian mucinous carcinoma CK7+/CK20± PAX8±
CDX2±
Ovarian serous carcinoma CK7+/CK20- PAX8 p53 (diffuse)
WT1 SATB2-
CDX2-
Pancreaticobiliary carcinoma, CK7+/CK20± CDX2± SMAD4 loss ± (pancreas, extrahepatic
including intrahepatic CK19 cholangiocarcinoma, and colorectal carcinomas)
cholangiocarcinoma Albumin in-situ hybridization - (also for
intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma)
Prostate carcinoma CK7-/CK20- PSA
PSAP
NKX3-1
P501S (Prostein)
ERG±
2Conner JR, Hornick JL. Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary: diagnostic approach using immunohistochemistry. Adv Anat Pathol 2015;22(3):149-167.
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-A
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Occult Primary Discussion

COMMONLY USED IMMUNOHISTOCHEMISTRY MARKERS FOR UNKNOWN PRIMARY CANCERS2

Tumor Site or Type Cytokeratin 7 (CK7) and Other Positive Markers Other Useful Markers
Cytokeratin 20 (CK20)
Renal cell carcinoma CK7±/CK20- PAX2
PAX8
Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9)±
EMA±
Vimentin±
CD10± (membranous)

Salivary gland carcinoma CK7+/CK20- CK5/6 GATA3


p63 AR
Squamous cell carcinoma CK7-/CK20- CK5/6 p16 (strong diffuse staining) and/
p63 or p40 or human papillomavirus in situ
34βE12 hybridization (HPV-associated
carcinoma)
Thyroid carcinoma (follicular or CK7+/CK20- TTF1 Thyroglobulin
papillary carcinomas) PAX8
CK19±
Thyroid carcinoma CK7+/CK20- TTF1 Calcitonin, synaptophysin,
(medullary carcinoma) PAX8 chromogranin, and monoclonal
CK19± CEA
Urothelial carcinoma CK7+/CK20± GATA3
p63 or p40
CK5/6±
34βE12
S100P
Uroplakin II
Upper gastrointestinal tract CK7+/CK20± Polyclonal CEA
carcinoma, including esophagus CDX-2±
and stomach Villin±
2Conner JR, Hornick JL. Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary: diagnostic approach using immunohistochemistry. Adv Anat Pathol 2015;22(3):149-167.
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-A
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PRINCIPLES OF CHEMOTHERAPY
• Consider chemotherapy in symptomatic patients (PS 1-2) or asymptomatic patients (PS 0) with an aggressive cancer.
• Base the chemotherapy regimen (listed on the following pages and others) to be used on the histologic type of cancer.

ECOG PERFORMANCE STATUS (PS)


Grade
0 Fully active, able to carry on all pre-disease performance
without restriction
1 Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and
able to carry out work of a light or sedentary nature, eg, light
house work, office work
2 Ambulatory and capable of all self care but unable to carry out
any work activities. Up and about more than 50% of waking
hours
3 Capable of only limited self care, confined to bed or chair
more than 50% of waking hours
4 Completely disabled. Cannot carry on any self care. Totally
confined to bed or chair
Adapted from Oken MM, Creech RH, Tormey DC, et al. Toxicity and
response criteria of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. Am J
Clin Oncol 1982;5:649-655.

Neuroendocrine Tumors

For poorly differentiated (high-grade or anaplastic) or small cell


subtype, see NCCN Guidelines for Small Cell Lung Cancer
For well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, see NCCN
Guidelines for Neuroendocrine Tumors - Carcinoid Tumors

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-B
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SELECTED CHEMOTHERAPY REGIMENS FOR OCCULT PRIMARIES


ADENOCARCINOMA
CapeOX
Paclitaxel and Carboplatin Oxaliplatin 130 mg/m2 IV over 2 hours, Day 1
Paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Capecitabine 850–1000 mg/m2 PO twice daily Days 1–14
Carboplatin AUC 6 IV Day 1 Repeat cycle every 3 weeks6
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks1

Paclitaxel, Carboplatin, and Etoposide mFOLFOX6


Paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Oxaliplatin 85 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Carboplatin AUC 6 IV Day 1 Leucovorin 400 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Etoposide 50 mg/d PO alternating with 100 mg/d PO Days 1–10 Fluorouracil 400 mg/m2 IV bolus on Day 1, then
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks2 Fluorouracil 1200 mg/m2/d IV continuous infusion x 2 Days
(total 2400 mg/m2 over 46–48 hours)
Repeat cycle every 2 weeks6,7
Docetaxel and Carboplatin
Docetaxel 65 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Carboplatin AUC 6 IV Day 1 Docetaxel and Cisplatin
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks3 Docetaxel 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Cisplatin 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Gemcitabine and Cisplatin Repeat cycle every 3 weeks8
Gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 IV Days 1 and 8
Cisplatin 100 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Irinotecan and Carboplatin
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks4 Irinotecan 60 mg/m2 IV Days 1, 8, and 15
Carboplatin AUC 5 IV Day 1
Gemcitabine and Docetaxel Repeat cycle every 4 weeks9
Gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 IV Days 1 and 8
Docetaxel 75 mg/m2 IV Day 8
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks5 Irinotecan and Gemcitabine
Irinotecan 100 mg/m2 IV Days 1 and 8
Gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 IV Days 1 and 8
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks10

See references on
OCC-B 4 of 4

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-B
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SELECTED CHEMOTHERAPY REGIMENS FOR OCCULT PRIMARIES

SQUAMOUS CELL Paclitaxel and Cisplatin


Paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Paclitaxel and Carboplatin Cisplatin 60 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Repeat cycle every 3 weeks14
Carboplatin AUC 6 IV Day 1
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks1
Docetaxel and Carboplatin
Cisplatin and Gemcitabine Docetaxel 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Cisplatin 100 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Carboplatin AUC 5 IV Day 1
Gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 IV Days 1 and 8 Repeat cycle every 3 weeks15
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks4
Docetaxel and Cisplatin
mFOLFOX6 Docetaxel 60 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Oxaliplatin 85 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Cisplatin 80 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Leucovorin 400 mg/m2 IV Day 1 Repeat cycle every 3 weeks11
Fluorouracil 400 mg/m2 IV bolus on Day 1, then
Fluorouracil 1200 mg/m2/d IV continuous infusion x 2 Days OR
(total 2400 mg/m2 over 46–48 hours) Docetaxel and Cisplatin
Repeat every 2 weeks6,7 Docetaxel 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Cisplatin 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Docetaxel, Cisplatin, and Fluorouracil Repeat cycle every 3 weeks8
Docetaxel 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Cisplatin 75 mg/m2 IV Day 1
Fluorouracil 750 mg/m2/d IV continuous infusion Days 1–5 Cisplatin and Fluorouracil
Repeat cycle every 3 weeks12 Cisplatin 20 mg/m2 IV Days 1–5
Fluorouracil 700 mg/m2/d IV continuous infusion Days 1–5
Repeat cycle every 4 weeks13

See references on
OCC-B 4 of 4
Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.
Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-B
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REFERENCES FOR SELECTED CHEMOTHERAPY REGIMENS FOR OCCULT PRIMARIES


1 9
Briasoulis E, Kalofonos H, Bafaloukos D, et al. Carboplatin plus paclitaxel in Yonemori K, Ando M, Yunokawa M, et al. Irinotecan plus carboplatin for patients
unknown primary carcinoma: A phase II Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group with carcinoma of unknown primary site. Br J Cancer 2009;100(1):50-55.
Study. J Clin Oncol 2000;18:3101-7.
10
Hainsworth JD, Spigel DR, Clark BL, et al. Paclitaxel/carboplatin/etoposide
2
Greco F, Burris, H, Erland J, et al. Carcinoma of unknown primary site: Long versus gemcitabine/irinotecan in the first-line treatment of patients with
term follow-up after treatment with paclitaxel, carboplatin, and etoposide. carcinoma of unknown primary site: a randomized, phase III Sarah Cannon
Cancer 2000;89:2655-2660. Oncology Research Consortium Trial. Cancer J 2010;16(1):70-75.
3 11
Greco F, Erland J, Morrissey H, et al. Carcinoma of unknown primary site: Phase Mukai H, Katsumata N, Ando M, et al. Safety and efficacy of a combination of
II trials with docetaxel plus cisplatin or carboplatin. Ann Oncol 2000;11:211-215. docetaxel and cisplatin in patients with unknown primary cancer. Am J Clin
Oncol 2010;33(1):32-35.
4
Gross-Goupil M, Fourcade A, Blot E, et al. Cisplatin alone or combined with
gemcitabine in carcinomas of unknown primary: Results of the randomised 12Pointreau Y, Garaud P, Chapet S, et al. Randomized trial of induction
GEFCAPI 02 trial. Eur J Cancer 2012;48(5):721-727. chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil with or without docetaxel for
larynx preservation. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101(7):498-506.
5
Pouessel D, Culine S, Becht C, et al. Gemcitabine and docetaxel as front-line
13
chemotherapy in patients with carcinoma of an unknown primary site. Cancer Kusaba H, Shibata Y, Arita S, et al. Infusional 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin as
2004;100(6):1257-1261. first-line chemotherapy in patients with carcinoma of unknown primary site.
Med Oncol 2007;24(2):259-264.
6
Cassidy J, Clarke S, Diaz Rubio E, et al. Randomized phase III study of
14 
capecitabine plus oxaliplatin compared with fluorouracil/folinic acid plus Park YH, Ryoo BY, Choi SJ, et al. A phase II study of paclitaxel plus cisplatin
oxaliplatin as first-line therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer. J Clin Oncol chemotherapy in an unfavourable group of patients with cancer of unknown
2008;26:2006-12. primary site. Jpn J Clin Oncol 2004;34(11):681-685.
7 15
Cheeseman SL, Joel SP, Chester JD, et al. A 'modified de Gramont' regimen of Pantheroudakis G, Briasoulis E, Kalofonos HP, et al. Docetaxel and carboplatin
fluorouracil, alone and with oxaliplatin, for advanced colorectal cancer. Br J combination chemotherapy as outpatient palliative therapy in carcinoma of
Cancer 2002;87:393-399. unknown primary: a multicentre Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group phase II
study. Acta Oncol 2008;47(6):1148-1155.
8
Demirci U, Coskun U, Karaca H, et al. Docetaxel and cisplatin in first line
treatment of patients with unknown primary cancer: a multicenter study of the
anatolian society of medical oncology. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev
2014;15(4):1581-1584.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-B
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Table Of Contents
Occult Primary Discussion

PRINCIPLES OF RADIATION THERAPY

LOCALIZED DISEASE

• Consider definitive radiotherapy for patients with localized disease.


• Consider stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) for limited (1–3) metastases and pulmonary metastases (48–60 Gy/4–5 fractions).

ADJUVANT THERAPY

• Consider adjuvant radiation therapy after lymph node dissection if the disease is limited to a single nodal site with extranodal extension
or inadequate nodal dissection with multiple positive nodes. 45 Gy is recommended with or without boost of 5–9 Gy/1.8–2.0 Gy fraction to
nodal basin for isolated supraclavicular, axillary, or inguinal nodal metastasis.

PALLIATIVE THERAPY

• Consider palliative radiotherapy for symptomatic patients. Hypofractionated RT can be used as palliative treatment for uncontrolled pain,
for impending pathologic fracture, or for impending cord compression.
Regimen: A number of hypofractionation regimens could be considered, but typically 8 Gy in 1 fraction, 20 Gy in 4–5 fractions, or 30 Gy in
10 fractions are most frequently used.

Note: All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise indicated.


Clinical Trials: NCCN believes that the best management of any patient with cancer is in a clinical trial. Participation in clinical trials is especially encouraged.
OCC-C
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Discussion Workup ....................................................................................... MS-8


Workup for Possible Breast Primary ........................................ MS-8
NCCN Categories of Evidence and Consensus Workup for Possible Germ Cell Primary ................................... MS-9
Workup for Possible Ovarian Primary ...................................... MS-9
Category 1: Based upon high-level evidence, there is uniform
Workup for Possible Prostate Primary ..................................... MS-9
NCCN consensus that the intervention is appropriate.
Additional Workup for Localized Adenocarcinoma or Carcinoma Not
Category 2A: Based upon lower-level evidence, there is uniform Otherwise Specified ................................................................ MS-9
NCCN consensus that the intervention is appropriate. Workup for SCC .....................................................................MS-10
Category 2B: Based upon lower-level evidence, there is NCCN Workup for Neuroendocrine Tumors .......................................MS-10
consensus that the intervention is appropriate. Management .............................................................................MS-10
Category 3: Based upon any level of evidence, there is major Psychosocial Distress ............................................................MS-10
NCCN disagreement that the intervention is appropriate. Supportive Care .....................................................................MS-10
Treatment Based on Workup Findings ....................................MS-10
All recommendations are category 2A unless otherwise
indicated. Adenocarcinoma .................................................................MS-11
SCC ...................................................................................MS-12
Neuroendocrine Tumors .....................................................MS-12
Table of Contents
Chemotherapy .......................................................................MS-12
Overview ..................................................................................... MS-2 Adenocarcinoma .................................................................MS-13
Literature Search Criteria and Guidelines Update Methodology .... MS-2 SCC ...................................................................................MS-15
Epidemiology ............................................................................... MS-3 Neuroendocrine Tumors .....................................................MS-17
Presentation and Prognosis ......................................................... MS-3 Radiation Therapy ..................................................................MS-17
Pathology .................................................................................... MS-4 Locoregional Therapeutic Options ..........................................MS-18
Immunohistochemistry ............................................................. MS-4 Specialized Approaches .........................................................MS-18
Molecular Profiling ................................................................... MS-5 Follow-up...................................................................................MS-18
Assessing the Clinical Benefit of Molecular Profiling .............. MS-6 References ................................................................................MS-19
Initial Evaluation .......................................................................... MS-6
Diagnostic Imaging ...................................................................... MS-6

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Overview to the primary tumor (see list of NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of
Cancer by Site, available at www.NCCN.org).
Occult primary tumors, or cancers of unknown primary (CUPs), are
defined as histologically proven metastatic malignant tumors whose The management portion of the algorithm focuses on treatment of
primary site cannot be identified during pretreatment evaluation.1,2 disseminated or localized disease for adenocarcinoma and site-specific
These heterogeneous tumors have a wide variety of clinical SCC. The panel endorses enrollment of patients in appropriate clinical
presentations and a poor prognosis in most patients. Early trials when possible. In most patients, CUP is refractory to systemic
dissemination, aggressiveness, and unpredictability of metastatic treatments, and chemotherapy is only palliative and does not
pattern are characteristic of these tumors.3 Median survival is ~8 to 12 significantly improve long-term survival. In patients with disseminated
months and depends on several prognostic factors that are discussed disease in particular, the treatment goals are directed toward symptom
below. Select patients with favorable subsets of CUP have median control and providing the best quality of life possible. However, certain
overall survival (OS) times in the range of 12 to 36 months.4 clinical presentations of these tumors are associated with a better
prognosis.5 Special pathologic studies can identify subsets of patients
These guidelines provide recommendations for evaluation, workup,
with tumor types that are more responsive to chemotherapy. Treatment
management, and follow-up of 2 pathologic diagnoses in patients with
options should be individualized for this selected group of patients to
epithelial occult primary cancer:
achieve optimal response and survival rates.
 Adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma not otherwise specified (NOS)
 Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) Literature Search Criteria and Guidelines Update
Recommendations for neuroendocrine tumors of unknown primary Methodology
origin can be found in the NCCN Guidelines for Neuroendocrine Tumors
Prior to the update of this version of the NCCN Guidelines for Occult
(available at www.NCCN.org).
Primary (Cancer of Unknown Primary), an electronic search of the
The NCCN Guidelines for Occult Primary suggest diagnostic tests PubMed database was performed to obtain key literature in cancers of
based on the location of disease and the patient’s gender. For example, unknown primary published between 05/15/2016 and 05/15/2017, using
for SCC the guidelines focus on the most common sites of clinical the following search terms: occult primary OR cancer of unknown
presentation, namely the head and neck nodes, supraclavicular nodes, primary OR cancer of unknown origin. The PubMed database was
inguinal nodes, and bone. For adenocarcinoma, 12 different clinical chosen as it remains the most widely used resource for medical
presentations are addressed, with suggested diagnostic tests for each literature and indexes only peer-reviewed biomedical literature.
location. For each of the pathologic diagnoses, if a primary tumor is
The search results were narrowed by selecting studies in humans
subsequently found, treatment should be based on recommendations in
published in English. Results were confined to the following article
the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines for the cancer site corresponding
types: Clinical Trial; Clinical Trial, Phase I; Clinical Trial, Phase II;
Clinical Trial, Phase III; Clinical Trial, Phase IV; Guideline; Randomized

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Controlled Trial; Meta-Analysis; Systematic Reviews; and Validation In addition, CUP was associated with the occurrence of lung, kidney,
Studies. and colorectal cancers in families, suggesting that these tumor types
are often the primary sites of the disease.10
The PubMed search resulted in 93 citations and their potential
relevance was examined. The data from key PubMed articles as well as A latent primary cancer may emerge during the natural course of the
articles from additional sources deemed as relevant to these guidelines disease though it is uncommon. In 20% to 50% of patients, the primary
and discussed by the panel have been included in this version of the tumor is not identified even after postmortem examination.6,11,12
Discussion section (eg, e-publications ahead of print, meeting
abstracts). Recommendations for which high-level evidence is lacking Presentation and Prognosis
are based on the panel’s review of lower-level evidence and expert
Multiple sites of involvement are observed in more than 50% of patients
opinion.
with CUP.13 Common sites of involvement are the liver, lungs, bones,
The complete details of the Development and Update of the NCCN and lymph nodes.14,15 Although certain patterns of metastases suggest
Guidelines are available at www.NCCN.org. possible primary sites, CUP can metastasize to any site. Therefore,
physicians should not rely on patterns of known metastases to
Epidemiology determine the primary site.
CUP occurs roughly equally in men and women, with an average age at Most patients with CUP have an unfavorable prognosis. Unfavorable
diagnosis of 60 years.6,7 An estimated 33,770 cases of CUP will be features include male gender, poor performance status (PS), pathologic
diagnosed in the United States in 2017, accounting for approximately diagnosis of adenocarcinoma with metastases involving multiple organs
2% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.8 However, deaths (eg, liver, lung, bone), nonpapillary malignant ascites
from these cancers are estimated to be 42,270 in 2017. This (adenocarcinoma), peritoneal metastases, multiple cerebral metastases
discrepancy is believed to arise from incongruency in the initial coding (adenocarcinoma or SCC), and adenocarcinoma with multiple
diagnosis and cause-of-death diagnosis, including the lack of specificity lung/pleural or bone lesions.16,17 For these patients, an empiric approach
in recording the underlying cause of death on death certificates. An to therapy is recommended, although the likelihood of benefit is
analysis of the SEER database from 1973 to 2008 found that the questionable.
percentage of cancers diagnosed as occult primary has been
Patients with a favorable prognosis include those with poorly
decreasing over time.9 Unfortunately, no improvement in median
differentiated carcinoma with midline distribution; women with papillary
survival was seen over this time period.
adenocarcinoma of the peritoneal cavity; women with adenocarcinoma
A study published in 2010 based on the analysis of the Swedish Family- involving only axillary lymph nodes; patients with SCC involving cervical
Cancer Database revealed that CUP may have a genetic basis.10 The lymph nodes (constituting 2%–5% of all cases of occult primary
analysis showed that 2.8% of occult primary cases were familial (ie, a cancers18); patients with isolated inguinal adenopathy (SCC); patients
parent and offspring were both diagnosed with occult primary cancer). with poorly differentiated neuroendocrine (PDNE) carcinomas; men with
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blastic bone metastases and elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA; In an attempt to identify the tissue of origin, biopsy specimens are often
adenocarcinoma); and patients with a single, small, and potentially analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC).30-33 In addition, gene
resectable tumor. 16,19,20 For patients with favorable prognostic features, expression profiling (GEP) assays have been developed to attempt to
tailored approaches to treatment, such as locoregional treatments or identify the tissue of origin in patients with occult primary cancers.34-36
specific chemotherapy regimens (eg, 5-FU–based therapy for Both methodologies offer a similar range of accuracy in tumor
suspected colon primary or cisplatin-based chemotherapy for possible classification (approximately 75%).37 Thus far, the literature on these
germ cell tumor), are likely to provide clinical benefit and may prolong approaches has focused far more on establishing a tissue of origin than
survival. However, few data exist to support this idea. In addition, on determining whether such identification leads to better outcomes in
results from a retrospective review of 179 patients with CUP suggested patients. Thus, while there is a diagnostic benefit to GEP, a clinical
that patients with better PS, higher serum albumin, and lower serum benefit has not been demonstrated. Consequently, the panel does not
lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were more likely to benefit from recommend cancer classifier assays (gene signature profiling) at this
chemotherapy.21 time for the identification of tissue of origin as standard management in
the diagnostic workup of patients with CUP. Furthermore, the panel
Pathology believes that neither IHC, a diagnostic tool in widespread use, nor GEP
CUP often has multiple chromosomal abnormalities and overexpression should be used indiscriminately. Both of these techniques are discussed
of several genes, including EGFR, c-kit/PDGFR, Ras, BCL2, HER2, and in more detail below.
p53.22-24 BCL2 and p53 are overexpressed in 40% and 53% of occult
Immunohistochemistry
primary tumors, respectively.25 The BRD4-NUT oncogene, resulting
from the chromosomal translocation t(15;19), has been identified in Communication between the treating oncologist and the pathologist is
children and young adults with carcinoma of midline structures and important to ensure adequate tissue sampling, ideally by means of a
unclear primary sites.1,26,27 core needle biopsy and/or fine-needle aspiration (FNA) with cell block.
The use of IHC in CUP is based on the premise that concordance exists
CUP can be classified into 5 major subtypes after routine evaluation
in the expression profiles of primary and metastatic cancers.34,36 The
with light microscopy. The most frequently occurring subtype is well- or
predictive value of IHC panels improves with the recognition of patterns
moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma (60%), followed by poorly
that are strongly indicative of specific tumors. However, the limitations
differentiated adenocarcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma (29%),
of IHC testing include factors affecting tissue antigenicity, interobserver
SCC (5%), and poorly differentiated malignant neoplasm (5%).1,15
and intraobserver variability in interpretation, tissue heterogeneity, and
Additionally, because of improved histopathologic diagnostic studies,
inadequate biopsy sample. Nevertheless, with well-performed and
neuroendocrine tumors of unknown primary have been recognized
interpreted IHC panels, pathologists can identify the putative site of
(1%).28,29
origin of CUP in about 70% of the samples (validation to determine

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accuracy is a challenge given the unknown primary cancer similar molecular profiles to that of the primary tumor of origin. Assays
designation).37 used in GEP utilize messenger RNA (mRNA)–, DNA–, or microRNA
(miRNA)–based platforms.41-47 When validated using samples from
In patients with CUP, IHC studies are useful for the characterization of
known tumor types, these assays have generally demonstrated an
poorly differentiated or undifferentiated tumors and for cell-type
accuracy rate of 85% to 90%. 36,40 Because it is difficult to confirm the
determination and pathologic diagnosis.30-33 However, exhaustive IHC
site of origin in most cases of CUP, the accuracy of GEP assays in
studies (in excess of 10–12 stains) have not been shown to increase
occult primary tumor samples is challenging to determine. Surrogate
the diagnostic accuracy in identifying the putative primary sites.38 IHC
measures used to determine accuracy include correlation with IHC
studies should be used in conjunction with imaging studies to select the
findings, clinical presentation/response to therapy, as well as
best possible treatment options for patients with CUP.
appearance of latent disease at the primary tumor site. 36,40 Several
To determine tissue of origin using IHC, a tiered approach is studies suggest that GEP profiling is comparable or superior to the
recommended. A first tier of IHC assays can be used to help determine accuracy of IHC for poorly differentiated/undifferentiated
tissue lineage using lineage-restricted markers (eg, carcinoma, carcinomas.38,48
sarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma). A second tier of IHC, using organ-
In addition to DNA– and mRNA–based assays, miRNA–based assays
specific markers, can be used to help suggest the putative primary
have also generated interest for their potential to identify tissue of origin.
site.37 In select patients, it may be helpful to use a third tier of testing for
These assays examine the presence of specific miRNAs, which are
tumor biomarkers that might inform treatment decisions, such as RAS,
noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression and show high tissue
HER2, or ALK rearrangements. Combined with knowledge gained
specificity.49-51
through imaging and clinical presentation, biomarker testing with clear
therapeutic intent might be beneficial. More recently, another active area of investigation has been next-
generation sequencing (NGS) to characterize the genome of occult
Informative new IHC markers continue to emerge and may aid in the
primary tumors. NGS has the potential to identify actionable
diagnosis of CUP.39 See Immunohistochemistry Markers for Unknown
biomarkers outside of tissue-specific markers, but this approach
Primary Cancers in the algorithm for suggested IHC markers. However,
remains experimental. 36,52-55 Data from ongoing studies evaluating
testing a large series of IHC markers in individual patients should be
effectiveness of novel targets against specific mutations will help
avoided.
define the role of this approach.
Molecular Profiling In a recent comprehensive GEP study of 200 CUP specimens, use of a
Over the past decade, studies have examined various molecular assays hybrid-capture–based NGS assay enabled the identification of at least 1
designed to identify the tissue of origin in CUP (reviewed by potentially targetable genomic alteration in 85% of CUP specimens.54
Varadhachary and Raber36 and Hainsworth and Greco40). These assays Mutations and/or amplifications of ERBB2, EGFR, and BRAF occurred
are designed based on the assumption that metastatic tumors will have more frequently in adenocarcinoma CUPs (10%, 8%, and 6%,

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respectively) than in non-adenocarcinoma CUPs (4%, 3%, and 4%, recommend routine use of molecular profiling in the workup of CUP.
respectively). Additionally, clinically relevant alterations in the receptor Likewise, no such data exist to endorse the automatic or indiscriminate
tyrosine kinase (RTK)/Ras signaling pathway were found in 72% of use of IHC. Until more robust outcomes and comparative effectiveness
adenocarcinoma CUPs but in only 39% of non-adenocarcinoma CUPs. data are available, pathologists and oncologists must collaborate on the
Since the identification of clinically relevant genomic alterations has the judicious use of these modalities on a case-by-case basis, with the best
potential to influence therapy options, use of comprehensive GEP may possible individualized patient outcome in mind.58
help identify novel treatment paradigms to address the limited treatment
options and poor prognoses of patients with CUP.54 Ongoing clinical Initial Evaluation
trials will help define the impact. These guidelines recommend that patients undergo an initial evaluation,
including a detailed review of biopsy findings. At this point, a specific
Assessing the Clinical Benefit of Molecular Profiling
pathologic diagnosis may be made (ie, epithelial occult primary [not site-
Several commercially available GEP tests have been evaluated in
specific], lymphoma or other hematologic malignancy, melanoma,
prospective clinical studies in an attempt to determine if the information
sarcoma, germ cell tumor).
they provide translates into clinically meaningful benefits for patients.56
In one study, 32 patients whose tumors were classified as being of Initial evaluation of a patient with a suspected metastatic malignancy
colorectal origin by 2 GEP assays (the 10-gene assay of Talantov et al46 should include a complete history and physical examination (including
and the 92-gene assay of Ma et al47) showed a response to colorectal breast, genitourinary, pelvic, and rectal examinations) with attention to
chemotherapy regimens as expected for patients with stage IV and review of past biopsies or malignancies, removed lesions,
colorectal cancer.57 Results from a prospective, non-randomized, phase spontaneously regressing lesions, and existing imaging studies. Routine
II study of 289 patients with CUP in which treatments were based on the laboratory studies (ie, CBC, electrolytes, liver function tests, creatinine,
identification of primary sites by the 92-gene assay showed that clinical calcium), occult blood stool testing, and contrast-enhanced
features and response to treatment were generally consistent with chest/abdominal/pelvic CT scans are also recommended. Endoscopy
assay results.56 While the median survival time of 12.5 months in the can be included in the initial evaluation if clinically indicated. Other
subset of patients who received GEP-directed treatment was better than diagnostic studies should be based on the clinical presentation and
the pre-defined historical cohort, similar results might be expected from subsequent histopathologic findings. It is important to determine if the
empiric use of these regimens in a good PS group of patients with initially identified malignancy is localized or disseminated, because the
unknown primary cancer predominantly below the diaphragm. Thus, the treatment for localized and disseminated disease may be different.
clinical benefit that might be derived from the use of these molecular
assays, if any, remains to be determined. Diagnostic Imaging
Recent reviews have compared the commercially available GEP Imaging can play an integral role in the multidisciplinary diagnostic
tests.36,40,58 As noted, outcomes data are not currently available to evaluation of patients with CUP.59 In the past several years, PET scans

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and combination PET/CT scans have become 2 of the most frequently Although one study suggested that PET or PET/CT scans detected
used imaging modalities in the management of patients with occult more primary sites (24%– 40%) than conventional imaging techniques
primary cancers. PET scans have been shown to be useful for the (20%–27%),78 their exact role remains undefined because of the lack of
diagnosis, staging, and restaging of many malignancies,60,61 and might prospective clinical trials comparing PET/CT scans with conventional
be warranted in some situations for CUP. PET scans have shown imaging modalities. Therefore, the panel does not recommend using
intermediate specificity and high sensitivity in a few small studies, but PET/CT scans for routine screening. However, PET/CT scans may be
larger studies are required to determine the clinical utility and role of warranted in some situations, especially when considering local or
PET scans in patients with CUP.4,59,62,63 In a comprehensive review of 10 regional therapy.
published studies, Seve et al concluded that PET is a valuable imaging
Recently, combined modality screening with PET/MRI has been
modality for patients with CUP with a single site of metastasis if therapy
evaluated in several studies for its diagnostic significance in CUP. In a
with a curative intent is planned.64
preliminary comparison trial to evaluate the diagnostic potential of
One of the limitations of PET scans has been the limited accuracy of whole-body PET/MRI versus PET/CT, Ruhlmann et al found that both
anatomic localization of functional abnormalities because of very little hybrid imaging techniques provide a comparable diagnostic ability for
accumulation of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) tracer in some detection of the primary cancer site in patients with CUP.79 Furthermore,
neoplastic tissues. In these cases, the combination of a PET scan with due to the significantly lower dose of ionizing radiation (IR), PET/MRI
either a CT scan or MRI can provide more useful information.65,66 may serve as an alternative to PET/CT, particularly for therapy
Studies on the use of PET/CT scans for detecting occult primary tumors monitoring and/or long-term surveillance.79 In a prospective study by
have reported that the combination of PET/CT identified the primary site Sekine et al, 43 patients with suspected CUP were assessed with
in 25% to 75% of patients.67-75 PET/CT and PET/MRI for the presence of a primary tumor, lymph node
metastases, and distant metastases.80 PET/MRI was found to be
One meta-analysis and systematic review on the use of PET/CT in
superior to PET/CT for primary tumor detection and comparable to
patients with CUP found that primary tumors were detected in 37% of
PET/CT for the detection of lymph node and distant metastases.
433 patients from 11 studies, with pooled sensitivity and specificity both
PET/CT also tended to misclassify physiologic uptake of FDG as
at 84%.76 These results indicate that combined modality scanning could
malignancy compared with PET/MRI.80
play an important role in the diagnosis of CUP. A second meta-analysis
examined PET as a diagnostic tool for 246 patients with cervical nodal A relatively new technique, termed multiparametric MRI (MPMRI),
metastases of unknown primary tumors. The cumulative data showed a allows for detailed visualization of tissues as well as their chemical
tumor detection rate of 44% and a sensitivity and specificity rate of 97% makeup, enabling experienced radiologists to better separate
and 68%, respectively.77 The accuracy of PET and PET/CT scans in cancerous tissue from benign tissue. In a retrospective study of 38
patients with CUP must be confirmed in larger clinical studies with patients with CUP and cervical lymph node metastases, the accuracy of
long-term follow-up. PET/CT and MPMRI in locating the primary cancer in the neck region

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was identical. 81 Therefore, because of their lower IR dose levels and evaluation should be conducted to search for the primary tumor beyond
seemingly identical efficacy and accuracy, PET/MRI and MPMRI seem these initial tests, as opposed to a more directed evaluation based on
to be favorable over PET and/or CT scans in the workup of suspected the complete history and physical examination, clinical presentation,
occult malignancies. However, more robust data are required to support histopathologic diagnosis, and metastatic sites of involvement.
this assertion. Suggested diagnostic tests for each pathologic subtype, location, and
gender (where appropriate) are indicated in the guidelines and are
Workup discussed below. Additional studies can be important in determining
whether the occult primary cancer is potentially curable, or in
Patients with a suspected occult primary tumor will typically present to
the oncologist after undergoing an initial core needle biopsy (preferred) diagnosing a possibly treatable disease associated with long-term
survival. Effective therapies are available for lymphoma, breast, ovarian,
and/or FNA with cell block. Accurate pathologic assessment of the
thyroid, prostate, and germ cell tumors.
biopsied material is of utmost importance. Therefore, the pathologist
must be consulted to determine whether additional biopsy material is
Workup for Possible Breast Primary
necessary (eg, core needle, incisional, or excisional biopsy).
Examination of the biopsy material by light microscopy is usually Adenocarcinoma with positive axillary nodes and mediastinal nodes in a
performed first. Other techniques include electron microscopy and flow woman is highly suggestive of a breast primary. Adenocarcinoma in the
cytometry. Although IHC stains can be informative (see supraclavicular nodes, chest, peritoneum, retroperitoneum, liver, bone,
Immunohistochemistry above), large panels of IHC markers should be or brain could also indicate primary breast cancer in women. These
avoided. As previously mentioned, the panel does not currently guidelines suggest the use of a mammogram for these patients.
recommend tumor sequencing or gene signature profiling for the Appropriate testing for IHC markers is also recommended. Contrast-
identification of the tissue of origin as standard practice. If contrast- enhanced MRI and/or ultrasound of the breast should be considered for
enhanced CT scans of the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis were not patients with a non-diagnostic mammogram and histopathologic
performed previously, they are varyingly indicated depending on the evidence of breast cancer. Contrast-enhanced MRI should also be
clinical presentation of the patient. considered when mammography is not adequate to assess the extent of
the disease, especially in women with dense breast tissue and/or
This initial evaluation will identify a primary site in approximately 30% of
positive axillary nodes, or to evaluate the chest wall.82 Breast MRI has
patients presenting with CUP. These patients should be treated
been shown to be useful in identifying the primary site in patients with
according to the appropriate NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer
occult primary breast cancer and may also facilitate breast conservation
by Site (see list of NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer by Site,
in select women by allowing for lumpectomy instead of mastectomy.83-85
available at www.NCCN.org).
In one report, the primary site was identified using MRI in approximately
For the remaining patients, a great deal of controversy remains half of the women presenting with axillary metastases, irrespective of
regarding whether an exhaustive, time-consuming, and costly breast density.86

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For a woman with involvement of the mediastinum whose workup does Workup for Possible Prostate Primary
not indicate primary breast cancer, additional consultation with a
All men older than 40 years of age with an adenocarcinoma of unknown
pathologist to determine whether further analysis would help
primary, except those with metastases limited to the liver or brain,
differentiate between breast and non-small cell lung cancer (or other
should undergo testing for PSA levels. In addition, men presenting with
putative primary sites) should be considered.
bone metastases or multiple sites of involvement should have PSA
levels assessed regardless of age.
Workup for Possible Germ Cell Primary
Adenocarcinoma with positive mediastinal nodes suggests a possible Additional Workup for Localized Adenocarcinoma or Carcinoma
primary germ cell tumor in patients younger than 40 years or those Not Otherwise Specified
between 40 and 50 years of age, as does a retroperitoneal mass in men
In patients with adenocarcinoma involving painful bone lesions, a bone
younger than 65 years of age. Thus, these guidelines recommend
scan (if a PET/CT scan was not previously performed) and diagnostic
measurement of -human chorionic gonadotropin (-hCG) and - imaging studies are recommended. During diagnostic imaging, x-rays
fetoprotein (AFP) levels as well as testicular ultrasound for male are recommended for the initial evaluation. If pain or other neurologic
patients in these age groups with occult primary adenocarcinoma symptoms suggest spine metastases, an MRI or contrast-enhanced CT
having positive mediastinal nodes and/or a retroperitoneal mass. scan should be used for the initial evaluation. When x-ray films suggest
For patients with involvement of the mediastinum whose workup does metastases in weight-bearing areas, further imaging is recommended
not indicate a primary germ cell tumor, additional consultation with a for therapeutic evaluation. Urine cytology is recommended for patients
pathologist to determine whether further analysis would help presenting with a retroperitoneal mass, followed by cystoscopy if
differentiate between testicular or ovarian germ cell cancer and non- findings are suspicious. In patients with inguinal lymph node
small cell lung cancer should be considered. involvement, the guidelines include proctoscopy for men and women, if
clinically indicated, to assess for rectal or anal cancer.87 Endoscopic
Workup for Possible Ovarian Primary evaluation is recommended for patients presenting with malignancy in
Adenocarcinoma with positive mediastinal and/or inguinal nodes, with or the liver and is suggested for patients with positive supraclavicular
without accompanying pleural effusion, peritoneal ascites, or nodes, if clinically indicated. However, endoscopy is not routinely
retroperitoneal mass is suggestive of an occult non-germ cell ovarian recommended for patients presenting with malignant ascites (ie,
primary tumor. Testing for the ovarian cancer marker CA-125 is peritoneal presentation). Since the differentiation between metastatic
recommended in these cases, as is consultation with a gynecologic adenocarcinoma of the liver and primary hepatocellular carcinoma
oncologist, if clinically indicated. (HCC) is sometimes challenging, the use of AFP as a marker for HCC
as part of the additional workup for CUP in the liver is recommended.88
In the absence of a positive fecal occult blood test or other clinical
factors suggesting a putative colon primary or concern for bowel
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involvement/obstruction from metastatic cancer or carcinomatosis, the Neuroendocrine Tumors should be followed (available at
diagnostic yield of colonoscopy is low and is therefore not www.NCCN.org).
recommended as standard practice in the workup process in the
guidelines.89 Management
Psychosocial Distress
Workup for SCC
For many patients, the apparent uncertainties surrounding the diagnosis
SCC can be present in the lymph nodes of the head and neck region,
of unknown primary cancer may result in significant psychosocial
as well as in the supraclavicular, axillary, and inguinal nodes. Contrast-
distress and increased difficulty in accepting treatment options. In fact, a
enhanced CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis; perineal and lower
study by Hyphantis et al found that psychiatric manifestations, including
extremity examination; gynecologic oncology consult; and anal
anxiety and depression, were more common in patients with CUP than
endoscopy are recommended for patients with SCC involving inguinal
in those with known primaries.90 Empathetic discussion about the
lymph nodes, unless contraindicated. A bone scan (if a
natural history of these types of cancers and their prognoses, and the
chest/abdomen/pelvis contrast-enhanced CT scan was not previously
provision of support and counseling by both the primary oncology team
performed) and diagnostic imaging studies are recommended for SCC
and specialized services, may help alleviate this distress. Please see
involving painful or bone scan-positive bone lesions. Directives for
the NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management for further information
diagnostic imaging in this context have been previously described under
(available at www.NCCN.org).
Additional Workup for Localized Adenocarcinoma or Carcinoma Not
Otherwise Specified above. Supportive Care
The workup recommendations for Occult Primary in the NCCN
In addition to psychosocial support, patients with active and incurable
Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers should be followed for unknown
CUP often require symptom management and palliative care
primary lesions in the head and neck and supraclavicular nodes (to view
interventions. Given the natural history of this disease, end-of-life
the most recent version of these guidelines, visit the NCCN website at
discussions should be initiated early in the clinical course. Hospice care
www.NCCN.org).
should also be considered and utilized as appropriate. Please see the
NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care and the NCCN Guidelines for
Workup for Neuroendocrine Tumors
Survivorship for more information (available at www.NCCN.org).
Neuroendocrine tumors can metastasize to several sites, including the
head and neck, supraclavicular lymph nodes, lung, inguinal lymph Treatment Based on Workup Findings
nodes, liver, bone, brain, and skin. The workup recommendations for
Localized adenocarcinoma or carcinoma NOS is treated according to
Neuroendocrine Unknown Primary in the NCCN Guidelines for
the most likely primary site.

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Adenocarcinoma Other locations of adenocarcinomas of unknown primary are not


Patients with localized adenocarcinoma involving supraclavicular nodes associated with a common primary site. Treatment recommendations in
(unilateral or bilateral) or in the head and neck regions should be these cases are thus general and may involve local and systemic
treated according to the Occult Primary pathway described in the NCCN therapies. For example, axillary node dissection is recommended in
Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers. Those presenting with localized men with localized adenocarcinoma involving the axillary nodes.
adenocarcinoma with a peritoneal mass or ascites consistent with Additionally, radiation therapy (RT) and chemotherapy can also be
ovarian histology should be treated according to the NCCN Guidelines considered if clinically indicated. Surgery should be considered for
for Ovarian Cancer.91,92 Localized adenocarcinoma with a resectable lung nodules. Chemotherapy, preferably as part of a clinical
retroperitoneal mass consistent with germ cell histology should be trial, or stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) can be considered for
treated according to the NCCN Guidelines for Testicular Cancer or oligometastatic lung nodules with or without resection. Lymph node
NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer (Malignant Germ Cell Tumors dissection is recommended for inguinal nodal involvement; RT with or
pathway). Women with localized adenocarcinoma involving axillary without chemotherapy can also be considered if clinically indicated. It
nodes and those who are breast-marker positive and have pleural should be noted that the use of RT alone in cases of bilateral inguinal
effusion should be treated according to the NCCN Guidelines for Breast node involvement is a category 2B recommendation.93
Cancer. Surgical resection with or without chemotherapy is recommended for
Localized adenocarcinoma occurring in the mediastinum most likely patients with localized adenocarcinoma in the liver. If surgery is
derives from either a germ cell tumor or a non-small cell lung tumor. medically contraindicated or declined by the patient, or if the tumor is
Additional consultation with a pathologist should be considered to unresectable, these guidelines recommend chemotherapy and/or
determine if further analysis would help determine the origin of the locoregional treatment options as described in the NCCN Guidelines for
primary tumor. In the absence of additional diagnostic information, the Hepatobiliary Cancers.
recommended treatment depends on the age of the patient at For patients with good PS and bone lesions with potential for fracture in
diagnosis. Patients younger than 40 years and those between 40 and a weight-bearing area, surgery and/or RT are the recommended
50 years of age should be treated for poor-risk germ cell tumors treatment options. In the case of patients with poor PS or those with
according to the NCCN Guidelines for Testicular Cancer or the NCCN isolated or painful bone lesions, RT is recommended. Patients with
Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer. Alternatively, patients aged 40 to 50 brain metastases should be managed according to the
years could also be treated according to the NCCN Guidelines for recommendations for treating metastatic lesions in the NCCN
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Patients aged 50 years or older should be Guidelines for Central Nervous System Cancers. Chemotherapy can be
treated according to the NCCN Guidelines for Non-Small Cell Lung considered for patients presenting with hormone-negative pleural
Cancer. effusion or ascites/peritoneal mass of non-ovarian origin. In the case of
a retroperitoneal mass of non-germ cell histology, surgery and/or RT is

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recommended, with chemotherapy considered for select patients recommendations for metastatic lesions in the NCCN Guidelines for
(category 2B). Central Nervous System Cancers.
To view the most recent versions of these guidelines, visit the NCCN To view the most recent versions of these guidelines, visit the NCCN
website at www.NCCN.org. website at www.NCCN.org.
For patients with disseminated CUP, a clinical trial is preferred. For patients with disseminated SCC of unknown primary, a clinical trial
Additional recommendations include symptom control, consideration of is preferred, with additional recommendations including symptom
chemotherapy on an individual basis, and specialized approaches (see control and the consideration of chemotherapy on an individual basis.
Specialized Approaches below).
Neuroendocrine Tumors
SCC
Treatment of neuroendocrine tumors should follow the Neuroendocrine
In patients with site-specific SCC and localized axillary or inguinal lymph Unknown Primary pathway of the NCCN Guidelines for Neuroendocrine
node involvement, lymph node dissection is recommended. RT can be Tumors (available at www.NCCN.org).
considered if clinically indicated with or without chemotherapy (the use
of RT alone in the case of bilateral inguinal node involvement is a Chemotherapy
category 2B recommendation).93 Chemotherapy is not recommended if
Many chemotherapeutic regimens have been evaluated in patients with
the tumor has a high likelihood of cutaneous origin.
CUP in an attempt to prolong survival and provide relief of symptoms
Patients with unilateral and bilateral involvement of the supraclavicular when present. Studies conducted in the 1980s used 5-FU–based or
lymph nodes or with SCC involvement in the head and neck should be cisplatin-based chemotherapeutic regimens.94-100 Most of the patients in
treated according to the recommendations for occult primary tumors these studies had adenocarcinoma, with only 5% to 10% having poorly
described in the NCCN Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancers. differentiated carcinoma. Overall response rates (ORRs) to these
Patients with site-specific SCC in the mediastinum should be treated regimens were 20% to 35%, with median survival times of 5 to 10
according to the NCCN Guidelines for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. months. However, some of the studies reported longer median survival
Participation in a clinical trial is the preferred treatment option for duration. These older regimens are no longer used as standard
patients with multiple lung nodules or pleural effusion. Alternatively, treatment for adenocarcinoma, because complete response is rarely
chemotherapy can also be considered for this group of patients. observed.
Surgery for impending fracture and/or RT are options for patients with In more recent years, various regimens have shown efficacy in the
an isolated bone lesion and good PS. In the case of patients with poor treatment of patients with CUP in phase II studies. However, a 2012
PS or those with painful bone lesions, RT is recommended. Patients systematic review of chemotherapy trials in patients with CUP of
with brain metastases should be treated according to the unfavorable presentations concluded that no specific regimen can be
recommended as standard of care.101 A systematic review and meta-

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analysis published in 2013 largely came to the same conclusion, with patients with CUP and poor prognostic features.107 Gemcitabine plus
taxanes showing a possible slight advantage over platinum-based oxaliplatin was also assessed in patients with CUP in a phase II
regimens.102 In general, chemotherapy shows limited efficacy and study.105 This well-tolerated combination gave a median OS of
considerable toxicity in patients with CUP. Therefore, these guidelines 12.8 months (95% CI, 8.5–18.5 months) and PFS of 3.1 months (95%
recommend that chemotherapy for patients with disseminated disease CI, 1.7–6 months).
be limited to patients who are symptomatic with a PS of 1 to 2 or to
In subsequent studies, molecularly targeted agents have been tested
patients who are asymptomatic with aggressive cancer and a PS of 0.
for efficacy in treating patients with CUP. Hainsworth et al109,110 reported
The choice of regimen should be based on the histologic type of cancer.
that the combination of bevacizumab and erlotinib (alone or combined
Regimens in addition to those listed in the guidelines can be
with paclitaxel and carboplatin) had substantial activity as first- or
considered.
second-line therapy in patients with CUP. In a phase II trial, the
Adenocarcinoma
combination of bevacizumab and erlotinib induced partial responses in
10% of patients and stable disease in 61% of patients.109 Median
Poorly differentiated or undifferentiated occult primary tumors respond survival was 7.4 months (1-year survival, 33%), which was superior to
differently from well- to moderately differentiated occult primary tumors. that observed by the same group with gemcitabine alone and
Tumors in the former group seem to be highly responsive to gemcitabine plus irinotecan (3 and 4.5 months, respectively). In a
cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy.103,104 Objective response multicenter phase II study, the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin
rates (RRs) reported in 2 studies from the early 1990s were 53% (van with bevacizumab and erlotinib was active and well-tolerated as first-line
der Gaast et al104) and 63% (Hainsworth et al103) with complete RRs of therapy in patients with CUP.110 After a median follow-up of 19 months,
12% and 26%, respectively. In one study, patients who had tumors with the median PFS time and 2-year OS rates were 8 months and 27%,
extragonadal germ cell features showed a high RR.103 In the other, respectively.
patients with undifferentiated carcinomas had a better RR than those
with poorly differentiated carcinomas (79% vs. 35%; P = .02).104 The following regimens are included in the guidelines for treating
adenocarcinoma of unknown primary, based on the results of phase II
In more recent years, newer regimens containing taxanes and/or and/or phase III studies, as described below. Regimens other than
gemcitabine have shown efficacy in phase II studies for the treatment of those listed can also be considered.
patients with CUP.105-108 Schneider et al reported that the combination of
carboplatin, gemcitabine, and capecitabine was active in CUP in Paclitaxel and Carboplatin with or without Etoposide
patients with good PS.106 Median progression-free survival (PFS) was
In phase II studies, the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin with or
6.2 months, and 1- and 2-year survival rates were 35.6% and 14.2%,
without etoposide was found to be effective for the treatment of
respectively. In another phase II study conducted by the Minnie Pearl
adenocarcinoma of unknown primary.111-113 In the Hellenic Cooperative
Cancer Research Network, the combination of carboplatin, gemcitabine,
Oncology Group study, the combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin
and paclitaxel followed by weekly paclitaxel was active and tolerable for
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produced an ORR of 38.7% according to intention-to-treat (ITT) Docetaxel and Carboplatin


analysis; no difference was seen in the RRs for adenocarcinomas
Greco et al reported that docetaxel in combination with either cisplatin
versus undifferentiated carcinomas.111 In another phase II trial,
or carboplatin was active in patients with adenocarcinoma and poorly
long-term follow-up of patients treated with the triple drug combination
differentiated carcinoma of unknown primary.118 Major response to
of paclitaxel, carboplatin, and oral etoposide showed 1-, 2-, and 3-year
therapy was observed in 26% of patients receiving docetaxel and
survival rates of 48%, 20%, and 14%, respectively.112
cisplatin, with a median survival of 8 months and a 1-year survival rate
In one study, taxane-based chemotherapy (paclitaxel/carboplatin/ of 42%. In patients receiving docetaxel and carboplatin, the
etoposide; docetaxel/cisplatin; or docetaxel/carboplatin) was associated corresponding RR was 22%, with a median survival of 8 months and a
with long-term survival in some patients with CUP, with 1-, 2-, 3-, and 1-year survival rate of 29%. Docetaxel in combination with carboplatin
4-year survival rates of 42%, 22%, 17%, and 17%, respectively.114 The was better tolerated than docetaxel with cisplatin in this study.118
median survival time was 10 months.
In a report on the Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group phase II study,
A phase III randomized study found that the triple drug regimen of a 1-hour treatment with docetaxel and carboplatin every 3 weeks was
paclitaxel, carboplatin, and etoposide had comparable efficacy to found to be as safe and effective as a palliative treatment for patients
gemcitabine and irinotecan in the first-line treatment of patients with with adenocarcinoma or poorly differentiated carcinoma of unknown
CUP.115 The RR for paclitaxel/carboplatin/etoposide was 18% among 93 primary with a PS of 0 to 2.119 Median time to progression was 5.5
patients; median PFS and OS were 3.3 months and 7.4 months, months, whereas OS was 16.2 months. Survival was better in patients
respectively, and the 2-year survival rate was 15%. In a randomized with favorable-risk disease (23 months vs. 5 months for those with
prospective phase II study conducted by the German CUP Study visceral metastases). Predictors of superior outcome included good PS
Group, the double drug regimen of paclitaxel and carboplatin showed and low-volume disease.
better clinical activity than the gemcitabine and vinorelbine
combination.116 The median OS, 1-year survival rate, and RR were 11.0 Gemcitabine and Cisplatin
months, 38%, and 23.8%, respectively, for patients treated with The efficacy and toxicity of cisplatin with either gemcitabine or
paclitaxel and carboplatin, compared with 7.0 months, 29%, and 20%, irinotecan were evaluated in a randomized phase II study conducted by
respectively, for those treated with gemcitabine and vinorelbine. the French Study Group on Carcinomas of Unknown Primary
Sequential treatment with paclitaxel/carboplatin/etoposide and (GEFCAPI 01).120 Well-differentiated adenocarcinoma was the most
gemcitabine/irinotecan was also found to be active in patients with common histology, with one-fourth of patients having a single metastatic
CUP.117 However, survival was similar to that observed in previous site. Objective RRs were 55% for the gemcitabine and cisplatin arm and
phase II trials and the overall toxicity was found to be greater than that 38% for the irinotecan and cisplatin arm. Median survival rates were 8
observed with other regimens. Therefore, this sequential treatment and 6 months, respectively, and both combination regimens were
regimen is not recommended. associated with significant toxicities. The GEFCAPI 02 trial randomly

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assigned 52 patients to cisplatin with or without gemcitabine.121 with undifferentiated carcinoma (27.6%) and SCC histologies (13.8%)
Outcomes were similar between the arms, but trended better for the were also included. The objective RR was 37.9%, and median PFS and
combination (1-year survival for the combination and cisplatin alone OS were 6 and 16 months, respectively.
were 46% and 35%, respectively; P = .73). Toxicity was significantly
greater with the addition of gemcitabine. Irinotecan and Carboplatin
The combination regimen of irinotecan and carboplatin was evaluated in
Gemcitabine and Docetaxel
a phase II study of 45 patients with CUP who were chemotherapy-
A non-cisplatin–based regimen containing gemcitabine and docetaxel naïve. The regimen was associated with an ORR of 41.9%; median
was found to be active and well-tolerated as first-line therapy in patients PFS was 4.8 months and OS was 12.2 months. The regimen was
with CUP.122 Of 35 patients, 1 complete response and 13 partial considered active by the authors and was associated with significant
responses were observed, with an ORR of 40%. The median time to toxicities, including grade 3 or greater leukopenia (21%), neutropenia
disease progression was 2 months and the median OS was 10 months. (33%), anemia (25%), and thrombocytopenia (20%).132

Capecitabine with Oxaliplatin and 5-FU/Leucovorin with Oxaliplatin Irinotecan and Gemcitabine
The combination of capecitabine and oxaliplatin (CapeOx) has been In a phase III randomized study comparing
tested in phase II studies for first-line123 and second-line124 treatment of paclitaxel/carboplatin/etoposide to irinotecan/gemcitabine, both
patients with CUP. This regimen gave RRs ranging from 12% to 19%, regimens performed similarly. The RR for irinotecan/gemcitabine was
with disease-free survival of 2.5 to 3.7 months and OS of 7.5 to 9.7 18% with a 2-year survival rate of 18%. Among the 105 patients
months. This regimen appears to be active and well-tolerated and is an receiving irinotecan/gemcitabine, median PFS and OS were 5.3 months
acceptable option for this patient population. and 8.5 months, respectively.115
Although 5-FU/leucovorin/oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) has not been tested in SCC
patients with CUP, FOLFOX has been shown to be equivalent to
Platinum-based regimens have typically been used to treat
CapeOx in colorectal cancer.125-128 The panel therefore supports
disseminated SCC. Historically, the combination of cisplatin and 5-FU
FOLFOX (mFOLFOX6129,130) as an acceptable treatment option for
has been the most frequently used regimen for patients with SCC of
these patients.
unknown primary.133,134
Docetaxel and Cisplatin
Overall, only a few small studies have assessed chemotherapy
Combination therapy with docetaxel and cisplatin was examined in a regimens in patients with SCC occult primaries. Therefore, the panel
cohort of 29 patients with CUP.131 Approximately half of these patients lists possible regimens based on evidence from studies of patients with
(51.7%) had well- to moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma; patients

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SCC of known primaries and small studies of patients with SCC occult patients received cisplatin and 5-FU with or without docetaxel followed
primaries. Regimens other than those listed can also be considered. by chemoradiation.147 The ORRs after induction chemotherapy were
72% and 64% in the 3-drug and 2-drug arms, respectively.
Paclitaxel and Carboplatin
Paclitaxel and Cisplatin
The combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin is commonly used in non-
small cell lung, gastric, and esophageal cancers.135-140 The combination of paclitaxel and cisplatin is used in esophageal, head
and neck, and non-small cell lung cancers.138,150-153 In a randomized
In the Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group phase II study of combined
phase III trial of patients with advanced head and neck cancer, no
paclitaxel and carboplatin in patients with CUP (discussed above for
significant differences were seen in patients treated with
adenocarcinoma), 3 patients had tumors of SCC histology.111 These
paclitaxel/cisplatin compared with patients treated with cisplatin/5-FU.152
patients had an RR of 30% and a median response duration of 3
months. This regimen has also been assessed in a phase II study of patients
with unfavorable presentations of CUP.154 Three of the 37 patients had
Cisplatin and Gemcitabine SCC. The regimen gave an ORR of 42%, and the median OS was 11
The combination of cisplatin and gemcitabine is used in non-small cell months (95% CI, 8.3–13.5).
lung cancer.137,138,141-143
Docetaxel and Carboplatin
The GEFCAPI 02 trial compared cisplatin to cisplatin plus gemcitabine
The combination of docetaxel and carboplatin is used in head and neck
in 52 patients with CUP.121 Although the trial was terminated early due
and non-small cell lung cancers.155,156
to poor accrual, there was a trend towards better OS with the addition of
gemcitabine (11 months vs. 8 months, with overlapping confidence The combination of docetaxel and carboplatin was assessed in a phase
intervals [CIs]). II trial of 47 patients with occult primary adenocarcinomas or poorly
differentiated carcinomas, with an RR of 32% and median OS of 16.2
mFOLFOX6 months.119
FOLFOX is used to treat SCC of the esophagus and stomach.144,145 The
Docetaxel and Cisplatin
panel lists mFOLFOX6 as a possible regimen for occult primary SCC,
based on the evidence discussed above for adenocarcinoma.129,130 The combination of docetaxel and cisplatin is used in non-small cell
lung, esophageal, and gastric cancers.138,155,157-159 In a multicenter phase
Docetaxel, Cisplatin, and 5-FU II trial of 34 evaluable patients with metastatic esophageal SCC,
The combination of docetaxel, cisplatin, and 5-FU is used in gastric, docetaxel/cisplatin gave an objective tumor RR of 33% in the ITT
esophageal, and head and neck cancers.146-149 In a randomized phase population. The median PFS and OS times were 5.0 months and 8.3
III trial of 501 patients with advanced SCC of the head and neck, months, respectively.158

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The safety and efficacy of this regimen has also been assessed in 45 PDNE carcinomas are chemosensitive, with a high ORR to combination
patients with CUP.160 The reported ORR was 65.1%, and the median chemotherapy.
OS was 11.8 months. Two patients had tumors of SCC histology, and
PDNE tumors can also be treated following small cell lung cancer
both had a partial response to the docetaxel/cisplatin regimen.
regimens. In a randomized phase III trial (JCOG 9702), the combination
Combination therapy with docetaxel and cisplatin was also examined in of carboplatin plus etoposide was equally as efficient as cisplatin plus
a cohort of 29 patients with CUP, 4 of whom had tumors with squamous etoposide in elderly patients or those with poor-risk disease with
cell histology.131 The ORR was 37.9%, and median PFS and OS were 6 extensive small cell lung cancer who were not previously treated.169 No
months and 16 months, respectively. significant differences were seen in RR (73% for both regimens) and
median OS (10.6 months for carboplatin/etoposide vs. 9.9 months for
Cisplatin and 5-FU cisplatin/etoposide).
This historic regimen has been used in the treatment of metastatic anal,
In another study, the combination of cisplatin and etoposide produced
head and neck, esophageal, and gastric cancers.152,161-165 It has also
significant responses in patients with poorly differentiated, rapidly
been tested in patients with SCC of unknown primary.133,134
progressing neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoids and pancreatic
Kusaba et al reviewed their experiences of treating patients with CUP neuroendocrine tumors of known primaries) when used as a second- or
with this regimen, and reported an RR of 54.5% and a median OS of 10 third-line treatment.170 In 2 small series of patients, temozolomide, as a
months.166 single agent or in combination with thalidomide, was found to be
effective in the treatment of advanced or metastatic neuroendocrine
Neuroendocrine Tumors tumors.171,172
Neuroendocrine CUPs are uncommon, and their clinical behavior is
The panel recommends that poorly differentiated (high-grade or
dependent on the tumor grade and level of differentiation.167
anaplastic) or small cell subtypes other than lung neuroendocrine
Neuroendocrine tumors, regardless of grade, represent a favorable
tumors be treated following the NCCN Guidelines for Small Cell Lung
prognostic subset of CUP that are responsive to combination
Cancer. Well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors should be treated as
chemotherapy, making long-term survival a possibility in a minority of
carcinoid tumors in the NCCN Guidelines for Neuroendocrine Tumors.
patients.28
Hainsworth et al evaluated the efficacy of Radiation Therapy
paclitaxel/carboplatin/etoposide in metastatic PDNE carcinomas in
RT is a treatment option for a variety of localized tumors, particularly as
patients who had received no prior treatment.168 Of these patients, 62%
follow-up treatment after lymph node dissection. Adjuvant RT after
had PDNE CUP. Major responses were observed in 53% of patients,
lymph node dissection may be appropriate if the disease is limited to a
with a median survival time of 14.5 months and 2- and 3-year survival
single nodal site with extra-nodal extension, or in the case of
rates of 33% and 24%, respectively. The results of this trial showed that
inadequate nodal dissection with multiple positive nodes. Definitive RT

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can be considered for select patients with localized disease. RT alone Specialized Approaches
may also be considered for bone lesions, a retroperitoneal mass with a
Specialized approaches are suggested as a treatment option in all
non-germ cell histology, or supraclavicular nodal involvement in site-
patients with disseminated metastases. The term emphasizes the
specific SCC. In the palliative setting, hypofractionated RT can be
importance of an individualized approach. Specialized approaches may
considered for symptomatic patients with uncontrolled pain, impending
include palliative treatment options, such as thoracentesis and
pathologic fracture, or impending spinal cord compression.
paracentesis, targeted therapies, and novel approaches to RT.
One study examined individualized intensity-modulated RT (IMRT) with
risk-adapted planning treatment volumes in 28 patients with CUP and Follow-up
cervical nodal metastases.173 The majority of patients (71%) received
For patients with either active disease or localized disease in remission,
concomitant systemic therapy. In this cohort, 3-year OS, mucosal
follow-up frequency should be determined by clinical need. Follow-up
control, neck control, and distant metastasis-free survival rates were
consists of a history and physical, with diagnostic tests for patients who
76%, 100%, 93%, and 88%, respectively. Additional controlled studies
are symptomatic.
are needed to further assess the efficacy of individualized IMRT-based
treatment approaches. For patients with active and incurable disease, psychosocial support,
symptom management, end-of-life discussions, palliative care
A retrospective study assessed RT in 68 patients with metastatic head interventions, and hospice care should all be considered and used as
and neck SCC of unknown primary.174 These patients underwent
appropriate (see Psychosocial Distress and Supportive Care, above).
oropharynx-targeted RT to spare the mucosal surfaces of the Please also see the NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management and
nasopharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx; 40% of patients received IMRT the NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care (available at www.NCCN.org).
and 56% of patients received concurrent chemoradiation, resulting in an
actuarial locoregional control rate of 95.5% and a median time to
locoregional recurrence of 18 months.

Locoregional Therapeutic Options


In patients with unresectable localized liver lesions (either
adenocarcinoma or neuroendocrine), locoregional therapeutic options
may be considered. Where indicated, based on tumor size, pathology,
and clinical presentation, select locoregional options can be considered.

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Version 1.2018, 11/9/17 © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. 2017, All rights reserved. The NCCN Guidelines® and this illustration may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of NCCN®. MS-28
Printed by Ahmad Fakhrozi Helmi on 3/29/2018 12:39:57 AM. For personal use only. Not approved for distribution. Copyright © 2018 National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

NCCN Guidelines Version 1.2018 NCCN Guidelines Index


Occult Primary TOC
Occult Primary Discussion

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Version 1.2018, 11/9/17 © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. 2017, All rights reserved. The NCCN Guidelines® and this illustration may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of NCCN®. MS-29